Harold R. Edmonston, our Man-of-the-Month, needs
no introduction to the members of the Bureau. Born in 1896 in
Washington, D.C., Mr. Edmonston attended local grade schools
and George Washington University. In his high school days, he
was well known for his athletic achievements and excelled in
track, basketball, and baseball. In the Spring of 1918, he married
Emily Elizabeth Harrison, and will celebrate his 25th anniversary
on April 16.
When our country entered the first World War,
he was quick to offer his services and served in the 472nd Engr
from May 26, 1918 to Feb. 3, 1919. After the war he was employed
by the New Jersey Zinc Co. in W. Va. where he worked until entering
the Coast Survey on March 16, 1921. In the Survey Mr. Edmonston
was assigned to the Field Records Sec. (now Survey Br.). This
assignment was not for long however, and in August of the same
year he was transferred to the Philippines as Asst. Chief Draftsman
at the Manila Field Station where he remained until 1924.
After three years at his old job in the Field
Records Sec., he was transferred to the Nautical Chart Sec.
as a Cartographic Engineer. Here he supervised the construction
of a series of Intra-Coastal Waterways Charts. He has a consuming
interest in his work in the Bureau extending far beyond the
requirements of the job, and has constantly sought and developed
improvements in cartographic instruments and equipment which
have resulted in considerable savings in time and money and
contributed to the efficiency of the Bureau.
He assisted in the design of the projection
machine; designed an instrument for checking and adjusting 3-arm
metal protractors; in charge of the Coast Survey exhibit at
the Philadelphia Sesqui-Centennail Exhibition; author of Cartographic
Manual for Chart Compilations and of Coast Survey Standard Symbols
and Abbreviations; constantly in search of better paper for
field sheets and extensive research in the preservation of the
old valuable records of the Bureau. In June, 1939, he became
Asst. Chief of the Surveys Branch and has served in that capacity
until the present time.
Mr. Edmonston has an excellently equipped machine
shop in the basement of his home which he uses for making all
kinds of mechanical gadgets. Had his health as a young man permitted,
he probably would have specialized in mechanical engineering
and undoubtedly would have been an outstanding success in this
Some of these mechanical nightmares would have
made Rube Goldberg turn green with envy. One of these devices
is a super-duper butter churner which he developed for his inlaws
on their Pennsylvania farm. From the description of this mechanical
brainstorm it is not certain whether the churning is accomplished
before or after milking “Bossy.”
Another offspring of his genius was the conversion
of a Singer Sewing Machine into a jig saw to cut out cardboard
to fit contours in the construction of his relief map of the
In the early days of radio, he was quite an
ardent fan and his basement was full of wires and gadgets for
extracting that coveted “peep” from his home-built
receiver. He was in fact the trouble-shooter for his many friends
in the office.
Another of his favorite interests is touring
and in the good old days prior to gas rationing, he would migrate
to Florida to bask in the sun and fish.
Few men have his ability to win friends and
keep them and the “Buzzard” is happy to present
him as the Man-of-the-Month.
“The Buzzard,” Vol. X, No. 13, pp. 1-2. April 1,